When a new president takes office, they invariably make changes to the plans of previous administrations. Sometimes these changes benefit certain groups and sometimes they negatively affect those same groups.
When Donald Trump officially took office in January 2017, he made sweeping changes that have affected the lives of seniors across the country. One of the major changes the Trump administration made included removing a rule created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2016. This rule provided protections for seniors who lived in nursing homes and its removal is expected to create more problems for you and your senior loved ones.
The New Administration CMS Rule Prohibiting Forced Arbitration
To understand the changes that Trump made to the lives of many seniors, we need to understand how things were different before. Historically, seniors who wished to live in a nursing home were required to sign paperwork at the time of their admittance that promised they would deal with any problems they had with the nursing home or its residents “in-house.”
For example, if a resident was being abused by an employee of the home or another resident, the victim would meet with an arbitrator hired by the nursing home in order to come up with a solution that avoided legal charges or court proceedings. Obviously this “forced arbitration” makes it hard for victims to receive proper justice since the nursing home has the last say in most cases.
Changes To Forced Arbitration
In June 2015, CMS implemented the rule that prohibited forced arbitration in long-care facilities which were paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. Since Medicaid itself pays for residential care in more than 60% of the cases, it is clear that this rule changed the landscape of nursing home lawsuits. However, shortly after the rule was put into effect it was attacked by nursing home administrators and The American Health Care Association (AHCA), who believed CMS was overstepping its bounds and filed a suit to have the ruling stopped. As a result, in November 2016, the courts granted an injunction that barred the new ruling from taking effect.
CMS responded with a new version of the ruling. This new version allows nursing homes to request residents to sign arbitration agreements, but only if they are presented before admittance and are written in clear language.
What The New Revisions Mean for Seniors
The purpose of changing the arbitration ruling for nursing homes was to attempt to make everyone happy. The new ruling allows nursing homes to use arbitration to solve disputes, saving them from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on litigation. It is also supposed to allow seniors to obtain a faster ruling on disputes. However, statistics show that seniors who settle a dispute through arbitration typically receive 35% less than they would in a court of law. In addition, signing an arbitration clause requires seniors to give up their right to take the nursing home or any of its employees or residents to court should they face abuse or neglect.
Besides taking away the general rights of seniors to receive compensation for injuries or neglect faced at a nursing home, Trump’s new policies also threaten seniors more immediately. If Trump is able to pass his new budget, Medicare and Medicaid services, as well as Social Security, are on the chopping block. Just as vital, the government program known as Meals on Wheels will also be targeted. This program is a vital service provided to seniors who cannot get out to go grocery shopping or don’t have the ability to cook.
What Can Be Done To Fight These Changes?
While Trump’s administration threatens the lifestyle and freedom of many seniors across the country, there are things that you can do to fight proposed changes. Among them is to contact local representatives and argue against these new policy changes and be proactive in your loved ones’ lives.